October 20, 1991, Twins vs. Braves, World Series Game 2
I was 13 years old at the World Series AND my parents had tickets to all of the home games.
I went to the second game with my mom and I spent most of it cursing the Twins’ third baseman Scott Leius.
The Twins had 16-game winner Kevin Tapani on the mound against the eventual National League Cy Young winner, Tom Glavine. I feared Glavine and for good reason. I felt any hit, walk or any kind of baserunner was going to be a gift for the Twins. So when Twins’ leadoff man Dan Gladden’s fly ball dropped out of second baseman Mark Lemke’s mitt after almost running into David Justice in shallow right field, the Metrodome crowd went nuts. Gladden slid into second base easily, and Game 2 was on.
Chuck Knoblauch drew a walk to bring up Kirby Puckett with two on and no out. Rally time? Not yet. Puckett hit a hard grounder to Terry Pendleton at third for an easy 5-5-3 double play, leaving Knoblauch at second with two outs. Coming up to bat was an underrated star in the history of Twins baseball: Chili Davis.
The home run that followed was beautiful. Davis pulled an arching shot into the left-field seats. Sitting in the upper part of the upper deck in left field, it wasn’t as pretty as the TV replay. Davis’ swing was pure upper cut. He wasn’t going for a single. Tom Glavine’s pitch left his hand and Chili knew exactly what he wanted to do with it.
The TV announcer, Jack Buck, put the cherry on top when his crescendoing voiced yelled, “Chili Davis launches one! Two to nothing, Minnesota!”
World Series home runs take a while. As a fan, you want to jump on the field, hug the hitter and thank them a hundred times. Every run is so precious in the World Series, especially this Fall Classic.
When the crowd wouldn’t quiet with the next batter up, Davis stepped from the dugout and tipped his cap to the raucous crowd. I get chills thinking about it.
Ron Gant of the Braves probably still gets chills when he thinks about getting picked off first base by Kent Hrbek. Gant singled in the third inning with Lonnie Smith on first. Smith slid safely into third base thanks to an overthrow but, luckily for the Twins, Tapani was backing up the play. Gant noticed this too late after taking a wide turn around first. Tapani threw to Hrbek to pick off Gant at first.
Depending on what team you root for is what determines how the play was seen. Some say Gant’s momentum carried his foot off the bag and Hrbek kept the tag on him. Others say Hrbek pulled Gant’s foot off the bag. According to first-base umpire Drew Koble, Gant was not in control going back to first and his momentum carried him off. Hrbek would be greeted in Atlanta for the third game with death threats and a stadium full of boos he soaked up.
As for Scott Leius, there are some people who think everything happens for a reason. Maybe Leius’ error in the third inning happened so what he did in the eighth inning would seem that much sweeter. In the top of the third a hard hit ball by Lonnie Smith glanced off Leius’s glove for an error. If it’d be a regular season game, I probably wouldn’t have minded. But you can’t give the other team free bases in the World Series. Luckily, the inning would end on Hrbek’s tag of Gant.
The middle innings were a great pitchers’ duel between Glavine and Tapani, until the eighth. With the score tied 2-2, Leius stepped to the plate against Glavine with no one on base. The World Series will make nobodies into heroes and that’s exactly what it did for Scott Leius. His home run over the left-field plexiglass put the Twins on top 3-2.
Rick Aguilera closed the ninth with three strikeouts and the Twins led the World Series two games to none. It was a World Series game decided by one run. I thought it couldn’t get any better.
October 8 2002, Metrodome, Twins vs. Angels, ALCS Game One
I didn’t have much money at the time and it was because of the Minnesota Twins. I managed to get a ticket to every postseason game. I had three division series tickets, four for the American League Championship Series and four for the World Series. Of course, if the Twins didn’t play any of those games, my money would be refunded. As the Twins went further into the playoffs, the prices went up. I really wanted to go to the World Series, but there was a consolation if we didn’t make it: I’d be refunded the $400 for the tickets.
When Game One of the ALCS began, the dome was on fire. The fans could smell the World Series. The Twins were hot off their defeat of the Athletics and the Angels just took down the mighty Yankees. Joe Mays was on the mound for the Twins. Combined with his two-hitter against Pedro Martinez and this game, I think I’ve seen Mays’ two best games of his career.
He shut down an Angels’ team that couldn’t be stopped that postseason, but Mays managed to contained them for one night. The only run they managed on him was thanks to a Cristian Guzman error. It was a classic pitchers’ duel between Mays and Kevin Appier. There were a combined nine hits in the game. The Twins scored their two runs off an A.J. Pierzynski sacrifice fly to score Torii Hunter and a Corey Koskie double to bring home Luis Rivas. Mays’s one run was unearned and he didn’t walk a batter in eight innings.
When Eddie Guardado came on in the ninth to protect a 2-1 lead, the noise of the dome could be seen. The crowd was chanting, “Ed-die! Ed-die!” as he took the mound.
With two out and two strikes on the batter, it seemed each member of the crowd was screaming as loud as they could as the teflon roof of the dome held it all in. I watched a security guard standing with his back to the field leaning on the outfield wall facing the crowd. His face began to cringe with the immense volume of the crowd. When Troy Glaus struck out looking, a gunshot wouldn’t have been heard over the crowd noise.
With a one-game-to-none lead in the ALCS, it meant we only had to win three of the next six games. That’s .500 ball!
Unfortunately, the Angels got hot again, won four in a row against the Twins and then defeated the Giants in the World Series in seven games with help from Garrett Anderson, Darin Erstad, Jarod Washburn, Francisco Rodriguez and that damned rally monkey.
The good news was I got my $400 back.